The Rich History and Culture of Coffee in Panama

Coffee culture in Panama is rich and diverse, with a long history that dates back to the early 1900s. The country’s unique geographical location, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, along with its fertile volcanic soil, create ideal conditions for growing high-quality coffee beans. As a result, Panama’s coffee industry has flourished over the years, attracting coffee enthusiasts from around the world.

One of the main factors that contribute to the rich coffee culture in Panama is the country’s commitment to sustainable and ethical farming practices. Many coffee farms in Panama are family-owned and operated, passed down through generations. These farmers take great pride in their craft and strive to produce the best coffee possible. They carefully select the coffee beans, hand-pick them when they are perfectly ripe, and meticulously process them to ensure maximum flavor and aroma.

Coffee Production Regions

Panama is divided into several coffee production regions, each with its unique characteristics and flavors. The most famous of these regions is Boquete, located in the western highlands of the country. Boquete is known for its mild climate, abundant rainfall, and rich volcanic soil, which result in coffee beans with a distinct fruity and floral flavor profile. Coffee from Boquete is highly sought after and often considered some of the best in the world.

Another prominent coffee region in Panama is Volcan, located near the Baru Volcano. The rich volcanic soil in this area gives the coffee beans a deep and rich flavor, with hints of chocolate and caramel. Volcan coffee has gained recognition in recent years, attracting coffee connoisseurs who appreciate its unique flavor profile.

The Geisha Coffee Phenomenon

One of the most significant developments in Panama’s coffee industry in recent years is the rise of Geisha coffee. The Geisha variety originated in Ethiopia but found its way to Panama in the 1960s. It remained relatively unknown until 2004 when it won the Best Coffee in the World award at the Specialty Coffee Association of America competition. Since then, Geisha coffee from Panama has gained a reputation for its exceptional quality and high price tag.

Geisha coffee is known for its vibrant flavors, floral aromas, and tea-like characteristics. It is grown in limited quantities due to its specific cultivation requirements and is often hand-picked and processed with great care. The unique combination of Panama’s climate, altitude, and soil contributes to the distinct flavors found in Geisha coffee. It has become a symbol of prestige among coffee enthusiasts and is highly sought after in specialty coffee shops around the world.

Coffee Traditions and Ceremonies

In addition to its exceptional coffee beans, Panama also boasts rich coffee traditions and ceremonies. One of the most famous is the coffee tasting experience, known as “cupping.” Cupping involves carefully evaluating the aroma, taste, and other sensory aspects of coffee. It is a way to appreciate the complexity and nuances of different coffee varieties.

Another coffee tradition in Panama is the “cafetera,” a traditional coffee brewing device. The cafetera is a stovetop espresso maker that produces a strong and flavorful cup of coffee. It is commonly used in households across the country and is a staple in Panama’s coffee culture. The slow brewing process allows for a deep extraction of flavors, resulting in a rich and aromatic brew.

Coffee Tourism in Panama

Coffee tourism has become increasingly popular in Panama, as travelers seek to explore the country’s rich coffee heritage. Visitors can embark on coffee farm tours to learn about the coffee production process, from bean to cup. They can witness the meticulous care that goes into growing and processing coffee beans and get a glimpse of the daily life of coffee farmers.

Furthermore, coffee enthusiasts can participate in coffee tasting sessions, led by professional cuppers who guide them through the sensory experience of evaluating different coffee flavors. The tasting sessions enable participants to deepen their understanding of coffee and discover new varieties and flavor profiles.


Coffee culture in Panama is a testament to the country’s rich history and commitment to producing exceptional coffee. From the fertile soils of Boquete to the esteemed Geisha coffee variety, Panama offers a diverse range of flavors and experiences for coffee lovers. The country’s coffee traditions and ceremonies add to the immersive coffee journey that awaits visitors. Whether you’re a coffee enthusiast or simply curious about the world of coffee, exploring the coffee culture in Panama is a truly rewarding experience.

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